As a musician, I imagine reinventing yourself is fucking hard. To be kind, many of Hundredth’s long-time fans (okay, pretty much all of them) were shocked at the band’s full and complete departure from their melodic hardcore past, and their subsequent morphing into a shoegaze-influenced alt-rock band that wouldn’t sound out of place on a support tour with Slowdive or a revived Chapterhouse. Seriously, some of these swirling, reverb-heavy songs are heavily reminiscent of Whirlpool, Spooky, Mezcal Head, and Nowhere – all venerated shoegaze or alt-rock records of the early 90’s that maintain cult status today.
This makes what Hundredth accomplished on Rare all the more special. While the band’s previous melodic hardcore output (especially Let Go) gained them a steady fanbase and plenty of media attention, it also became clear to some listeners that you can only take hardcore and metalcore so far. A partial or even complete reinvention seemed the only option for the band, and it was clearly the right decision no matter how good their previous work was. Listen to “Neurotic”, for instance. The initial single from Rare may seem a shock to the system, and while the alt-rock style they dove into seems far removed from their past, it’s not like their already solid songwriting suffers. If anything, the emphasis on melodic vocals and shimmering atmosphere rewards multiple listens and travels in directions that transcend most of what hardcore can do. That’s not a slight to that genre of music (it’s one of our favorites), but it is a testament to what Hundredth are capable of.
There’s something immediately gratifying about hearing vocalist (and guitarist) Chadwick Johnson subtly croon “when I decide to leave, will it be everything I dreamed?” as the reverb-soaked guitars and driving drums battle to drown him out, but never quite do so. Perhaps those lyrics are telling of the direction that Hundredth has chosen to embark on – boldly stepping into the unknown and taking a giant musical risk that wasn’t certain to pay off. A “Departure” though it might be, Hundredth’s Rare is a big, bold melodic alt-rock record that might just be a stepping stone for loyal fans who’ll stick with the band, into other acts of the genre. It’s an album about branching out and being true to yourself – and that’s exactly what it accomplishes.